Is there anything more annoying than a pointless errand? You know the one I’m talking about. That’s the one where you have to shlep all the kids into the car and run out to the store, just to get a light bulb or some other item you can’t do without. …or can you? One of the nice surprises about sustainable living is the amount of time (and money) you can save by cutting down on pointless errands. Take a look at these seven common household supplies, and see if you can do without:
1. Incandescent Lights.
If you haven’t rid your house of those old incandescent lights yet, now is a good time to take the plunge. Saving energy is only one reason to get those twisty little compact fluorescent light bulbs. They last for years. Once you put them in, you’ll (almost) never run out again. There’s a bonus timesaver, too. How many times have you had to drop everything and drag out a chair or ladder to change a lightbulb? And then of course the screw that holds in the light fixture falls out of your hand and you hit your head on the coffee table when you’re crawling around on the floor looking for it…Well, that’s one pesky household chore that almost never happens, once you switch to fluorescents.
2. Paper Towels.
Back in the day, cloth dish towels were used for everything: cleaning greasy surfaces, mopping up spills, wiping down stovetops. They add practically nothing to your daily laundry, and they (almost) never wear out. Plan on going through about one a day if you have a busy kitchen, so buy a half-dozen or so. Use dark stain-hiding colored towels for those heavy jobs. Save the light-colored towels for light jobs. Budget tip: You can get a batch of dish towels on the cheap from your local thrift shop, or cut up an old bath towel.
3. Household Cleansers.
Plain white vinegar is a safe, effective all-around cleaning and deoderizing agent. It kills many kinds of mold, too. Keep a gallon jug handy for daily use. You can also mix it with baking soda for extra scrubbing power.
4. Disposable Batteries.
Rechargeables have been around forever, and now there’s even more ways to power them up. Check out the new windup flashlights, radios, toys, and other gizmos that run without disposables.
5. Printer Paper.
When you have kids in school, you have an endless supply of backpack flyers and worksheets. Save them in a small bin for printing out rough drafts, maps, etc. You can also save paper by reformatting documents into a smaller font, eliminating double spaces, and deleting unwanted graphics.
6. Plastic Wrap.
If your kitchen runs on plastic wrap, I’d make this transition slowly. You can start by storing leftovers in reusable containers with lids, or check out those handy new reusable food wrappers. Or, take a shortcut and leave the leftovers in whatever bowel they’re already in, just put a pot lid or plate over it. You can also save food-friendly plastic bags that come into your home, like empty bread bags and the inner linings of cereal boxes. Use them when you really need some kind of throwaway wrapping.
Murphy’s Law says that your kids will instantly get bored with all of their toys as soon as it starts raining. It also says you can run out in the rain and buy them a new toy, but the only part they end up playing with is the box. You can outmaneuver them (well, sometimes) by keeping a shoebox handy. Use it to save scraps for rainy day collage art: smaller boxes, bits of ribbon, rubber bands, buttons, feathers, acorns, string, and especially plastic bottle caps. Keep it out of sight until needed. Now, if you only don’t run out of glue…
Friends and readers: Is there a common household item you’ve greened out of your life? Send in your story, and Ill share it in a future post.
Image Credit: laffy4k at flickr.com under a Creative Commons license.
To go along with your paper towel idea (I almost NEVER use them either) are paper napkins. Use cloth. Buy a dozen — or two dozen for larger families. Again, toss them into every wash load. So what if they’re slightly stained after a while? I bought a 12-pack of paper towels and a pack of napkins about 3 years ago. I’m still using them up. I save the paper towels for really disgusting clean-ups and the paper napkins for food on the run — stuff we’re taking with us, in the car, etc.
Azeez Messiah says
This exactly what people need to wake up. I am willing to help spread the word however I can.
I do the cloth napkins, too. I also use the rags and baby washcloths to wipe up my messy kids’ faces and hands after lunch instead of using paper towels.
Another, is using a Diva Cup instead of pads and tampons. Also, we use real plates and glasses all the time instead of disposable. Pretty much anything that is disposable has an alternative; just think it through.
One thing to remember about going green is that it doesn’t help to just recyle — one must also buy and use recycled products. Creating and maintaing a market for recycled items is how recycling is made viable. Take another look at the napkins and paper towels in the store next time you have a chance — consider recycled.
Amy Rose says
I love Tina’s writing style. She is funny and to-the-point.
I am feeling rather virtuous now that I now can finally remember to bring my own shopping bags almost every time!
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